A new global report points to system wide conditions which are failing to attract a new generation of educators to the profession.
The 2021 Education International report on the Global Status of Teachers and the Teaching Profession, authored by Professor Greg Thompson, Queensland University of Technology, surveyed 128 education union leaders and officials in 94 countries and across all levels of education.
More than 42% of respondents stated that there had been a deterioration in teachers’ working conditions over the last three years. A significant 84% indicated that salaries had decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Teachers also expressed concerns about intensifying workloads, with over 55% of respondents stated that workloads were “unmanageable”. Over 66% of respondents felt that “administrivia” requirements were contributing to the excessive workload pressures for education professionals.
Teacher attrition was reported as an issue at all academic levels, with primary education (33.1%) the highest and higher education (17.3%) the lowest. Almost half (48%) of respondents think the teaching profession is not an attractive profession for young people.
“Teachers are skilled professionals doing increasingly complex and challenging work. If we aren’t properly supporting them, we aren’t properly supporting students,” NSW Teachers Federation president, Angelo Gavrielatos, told The Educator.
“Societal expectations about what teachers do everyday have never been higher but their pay compared to other professions has never been lower.”
Gavrielatos said the “deliberate undervaluing” of teachers by government is the root cause of the teacher shortage currently being experienced in NSW.
“This shortage will get much worse in years to come unless there is a significant policy reset. We are at start of a boom in enrolments that will require up to 25 per cent more teachers in the next 10 years alone,” he said.
“We have to make the profession more attractive through competitive salaries and realistic workloads if we are to fix the shortages and recruit a minimum of 11,000 more teachers required just to meet enrolment growth over the next decade.”
David Edwards, General Secretary of Education International, said the report’s findings are “a clear indication” that governments need to make an urgent investment in teachers and the students they educate.
“Increasing teacher salaries and reducing workload is essential to recruit the best people into the profession and ensure quality education for all,” Edwards said.
“Recent policy moves tend to shift responsibility, and blame, onto teachers for issues that systems should be providing support for. An intelligent professional agenda requires a collective, joint negotiated plan with the profession.”
Most people in NSW support better conditions for teachers
The report comes as a YouGov poll conducted between September 2 and 13 shows that a clear majority of people in NSW support higher wages and more preparation time for public school teachers, new polling shows.
More than half (57%) of people support a pay rise of at least 5% a year for teachers, compared to 28% who back the government’s position of capping increases at 2.5%.
Respondents also felt that teachers need more time outside the classroom, with 66% supporting an increase to four hours in the time teachers have for lesson planning and collaboration. Only 18% said the current entitlement of 2 hours was sufficient. 64% of Coalition voters backed the increase to four hours.
Gavrielatos said the fact that only 1 in 10 people believed the profession was a more attractive career option than a decade ago underlined the need for action on workload and wages.
“We have to make the profession more attractive through competitive salaries and realistic workloads if we are to fix the shortages and recruit a minimum of 11,000 more teachers required just to meet enrolment growth over the next decade,” he said.
“Teachers are skilled professionals doing increasingly complex and challenging work. If we aren’t properly supporting them, we aren’t properly supporting students. Our expectations about what teachers can do in schools have never been higher but their pay compared to other professions has never been lower.”